Policy discourse around ‘community cohesion’ has displaced liberal multiculturalist and anti-racist approaches with a much narrower focus on the promotion of ‘British values’ and, for minority communities, through a ‘faith’ agenda. We argue that these developments derive from the predominance of the doctrine of communitarianism within the contemporary policy terrain, influencing both New Labour and the Conservatives. The convergence of this with neoliberal social and economic imperatives has created a discourse of ‘conditional citizenship’ for Muslim communities particularly. There is a major policy contradiction where faith based approaches are promoted on one hand, but, in the context of transnational Islamist terror, lead to whole Muslim communities being pathologised as ‘insufficiently British’ on the other. We discuss the ‘Trojan Horse schools’ affair in Birmingham in 2014 as an example of this. We conclude in calling for an urgent refocussing of the debate toward secular approaches in policy, alongside looking at the specific economic and social conditions that we argue are the root cause of breakdowns in community cohesion.
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- Community cohesion
- ‘Trojan Horse schools’